It was catching not fishing for one family
Written by Tim Stouder, Coastal Angler Magazine, Northeast Florida Edition, April 2014 The weather was the best it has been all year, 80 degrees with 5 MPH winds. We fished the last of the outgoing and the first couple of the incoming tides. Many places in Browns produce fish regularly on these tides. guides chose to use this knowledge and lead their assigned Vets and family members to areas where the fish should be. Many guides pushed to the west towards the escalators and washout pond due to the tides. Craig Van Brocklin was guiding Robert Quinones and his two daughters Melanie and Madison. Craig made the decision to push into the overflow pond area of Browns. This area gets its name because it is the washout pond where the electrical plant dumps its cooling water on the outgoing tides. Once again Craig got it right. Once they made their way to the pond, they set up and began placing bait out. The daughters were first up with drag screaming and giggles of excitement, fish on. The day went well for them as they caught one fish after another with a days end total of 29 reds caught. Robert and his family are the first family to limit out on reds at any of our events. Sure we have had individuals limit out, but never have we seen a family of 3 slay fish like they did. The story as it is told goes something like this…Robert took daughter Melanie to purchase her fishing license prior to the event and Melanie insisted on paying the 17 dollars herself. At the day’s end, Melanie declared, “It was the best 17 dollars I ever spent.” It only gets better from there. When they hit the water, the girls were the ones to catch fish right away. It took dad a little time to get into the action. Once he did, the story told to me at the ramp was that Dad got pulled all over the place by this one red. It was funny and awesome to hear the teen girls talk about their fishing (I mean catching) day. According to many Vets and guides, it was quite crowded around the escalators. To be honest, I did not hear of any monster fishing days there by any families but fish were caught. What I did hear, the flounder were chewing once again. Many guides and vets landed flounder with most being int he 15-16 inch range. Regardless of the fish being caught everyone proclaimed how awesome the day was. When the clock struck I, everyone started to move back to the launch for the lunch provided by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Florida District 6 and the Ladies Auxiliary crew. It was a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, slaw, chips, drinks, and deserts. As I write this article, I reflect on how important our volunteer guides, and volunteers in general are. Without them, we could not make these events happen each and every month. Reservations for our April event have already exceeded half our chapter kayaks and here we are only days form our last event. This is a testament to the power of being on the water has had for our veterans and how the demand for our events continues to grow. Of course, along with our gracious volunteers, we could not hold these events without the generosity of local businesses like Browns Creek Fish Camp. Browns Creek Fish Camp is “home base” for the Northeast Florida Chapter and they provide storage for our trailer and bait every month for our veterans and family members. Heroes on the Water is a non-profit organization that helps injured service members with their physical and mental recovery using the therapeutic qualities of fishing from kayaks. Every HOW event across the country bring together wounded military personnel for guided kayak fishing excursions. Founded in 2007, HOW has served more than 6,100 wounded Veterans. The service is provided to the Veterans for free. HOW is a non-profit organization under IRS Code Chapter 501(c)(3). Donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Visit www.HeroesOnTheWater.org. The next Heroes on the Water outing is scheduled for April 13th at Bing’s Landing, Palm Coast, Florida. If you are a Veteran, know of one that would like to participate, or if you are interested in volunteering or any other questions, please contact Melita Ganoe at NortheastFlorida@HeroesOnTheWater.org. If you would like to follow us on Facebook, click here. To make donation to the Northeast Florida Chapter of Heroes on the Water, donate here.